Business

Health care, public sector dominate major employers list as real estate also fuels growth

Dr. David Coons, D.O., an orthopedic surgeon, center, performs a reverse shoulder joint replacement surgery at MultiCare Allenmore Hospital in Tacoma earlier this year. The health system remains the largest private employer in Pierce County.
Dr. David Coons, D.O., an orthopedic surgeon, center, performs a reverse shoulder joint replacement surgery at MultiCare Allenmore Hospital in Tacoma earlier this year. The health system remains the largest private employer in Pierce County. joshua.bessex@gateline.com

This year’s major employers list for Pierce County showed the continued ripple effect of the area’s real estate boom, both in terms of fast-growing companies and new ones added to the list.

Each year the Economic Development Board of Tacoma-Pierce County pulls together the list of employers with 100 or more full-time workers. This year it hit 259, up from 244 in 2017 and 215 in 2016.

The employers represent 163,205 jobs in the county.

Topping the area’s fastest-growing private companies was James Hardie Building Products, with a 57.9 percent year-over year increase.

It was followed by Absher Construction (47.8 percent), Washington Gastroenterology (41.9 percent; it’s now the largest gastroenterology practice in the state after a merger), J.P. Morgan Chase (29.1 percent) Fastenal (26.9 percent) and CarMax and Wilcox Family Farms (both up 20 percent).

New to the list: Wayne’s Roofing (152 employees), Light Dental Studio (133), Insulation Northwest (128), Tactical Tailor (120), Lakewood Ford (102), Trident Seafoods (101) and P.M. Testing Laboratory (100).

Health-care and senior services make up one of the biggest employment sectors in the county. They employ more than 21,900 and represent about 13 percent of the full-time equivalent (FTE) positions reported by companies in the survey, according to the EDB.

MultiCare Health System, with 7,705 FTEs, remains ahead of CHI Franciscan Health (6,786) for the top position of private employer. The rest of the top 10: State Farm (1,637), Boeing (1,550), DaVita (1,184), Milgard Manufacturing (990), Kaiser Permanente (755), Columbia Bank (704), Toray Composite Materials America and Regence (both with 565)

The days are dwindling for State Farm in the top 10, as it continues to wind down its call-center exit from Pierce County.

DaVita also will leave downtown for Federal Way in coming years but this year added jobs in the county, up 15.5 percent.

On the flip side, Kaiser, among others on the list, continued to expand in Pierce County.

Among the county’s largest retailers, Safeway/Albertsons is ahead of Fred Meyer in number of FTE positions, followed by Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Costco, REI (retail and distribution), Lowe’s and O’Reilly Auto Parts (retail and distribution).

Among public employers, Joint Base Lewis-McChord is on top with 53,000 FTEs (down from 60,100 last year), followed by the state (7,621) the City of Tacoma and Tacoma Public Utilities (3,591) the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and the Emerald Queen Casino (3,312), Piece County (3,089), and the U.S. Postal Service (1,336).

Tacoma, Puyallup, Bethel and Clover Park are on top among school districts.

Tacoma-based Columbia Bank is still the largest among its peers with its employment up 13.5 percent from last year.

Also showing growth was Sound Credit Union (which announced its acquisition of Bank of Washington earlier this year), Harborstone Credit Union, Heritage Bank (which is consolidating its back-office operations in Tacoma), America’s Credit Union and J.P. Morgan Chase. All showed year-over year employment gains.

Among companies to watch in 2019, the EDB noted that Tool Gauge and SeaTac Packaging will announce hiring rounds next year after making use of the Industrial Development Revenue Bond financing program. There’s also a statewide push to win Boeing’s new midmarket aircraft production.

The full report and list can be found at edbtacomapierce.org/area-profile/2018-major-employers/

Debbie Cockrell has been with The News Tribune since 2009. She reports on business and development, local and regional issues.


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